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In Filoforme - Abstract ENG

FILO FORME anno 4 n. 11


Stefanella Sposito

In this issue of Filoforme we wanted to put forth some initial ideas and elements reflecting on what it means to “deal with fabric” today. Over the past decades we have seen the growth and expansion of artists who have chosen to work with fibre art as the means that best expresses their individual language. Whether we are dealing with woven threads, layers of felt, manipulated textiles or applied sequins, giving the material a “form”, shaping and changing it, is still an expressive exigency in our contemporary world. At the same time, the confines of artistic media have become less defined and more controversial, and the artist has seen his or her own territory expand. Some truly interesting cross-current themes have emerged: emigration as a social problem and the psychology of identity search, the existential condition of women, the metamorphoses and changes in cities, human thought and outlook, new materials and their relation to art, the contamination of means of expression. Artists perceived and identified all these themes, they interpreted them and made them part of their work and lives. We have focussed our magnifying glass on these constantly changing areas. We have decided to examine and discuss them on a broader level, at times by means of an interview, with direct testimony from the protagonists themselves.
Lucia Feining-Giesinger, uses her great sensitivity in sharing with us the results that have emerged from the “waiting-time” of some Bosnian women refugees. The artist contributes by giving a constructive meaning to hope, injecting life into the stitched “Time” of the Bosna-Quilt. The construction of an object becomes therapy helping to retain a sense of self-identity and to plan a future, while the art, as Paola Jori states, becomes “the practice of the nomadic intelligence” and “the exercise of a critical activity”.
The same theme is intimately developed using a cinematographic medium in SEQUINS (Brodeuses). This splendid film is situated in provincial France, and uses embroidery as a metaphor for life. The emphasis is on the gestural aspects of the creative act and the passage of time while working Just as for this article, the other two pieces by Ester Prestini suggest a moment of reflection based on her encounters with a weaver during a trip in Tunisia, and from the theatrical analysis of “Telai” (Looms). The author gathers together the basic essence of the silent narration, “about putting order to the world by entwining threads together”. It is not by chance that cinema and theatre speak to us today about looms when focussing on aspects of femininity and its constant evolution. The work by Martha Nieuwenhuijs uses the idea of the Metamorphosis of events, directly comparing the historical past and the immediate present. These evolutions and changes involve art in parallel with philology, architecture, music and philosophy; they imply a cross-contamination and “a lucid, almost photographic gaze on changing reality, a metaphorical capacity in seeing”…and in discovering. Again, we find various references to the story as an art form: from the classics such as Apuleius and Ovid, to modern authors like Kafka, concluding with the formula of the book/sculpture. “Artists have chosen to rethink the book as an object in the aesthetic sense… for the artists this bond between thought, symbol and painting is a fairly natural expression…”
The attention to new materials has roots that are multi-material and mutant, and they allude to a metamorphosis that is constantly evolving. In this context we find the works in plastic and sequins, more or less conscious heirs to the sequins first used in Futurist paintings that with their iridescent, shimmering “pointillisme” project new light on contemporary art.
With the use of new technologies, are we perhaps living at the dawn of a virtual era, an era that pushes us into universes expanded by what is possible and imaginable, where the contaminations, the references and the convergencies follow and chase one another, and where the differences and peculiarities are hightened and contradicted? Is it a new eclecticism where historical memory and actuality co-exist, or is it de-constructivism where the concepts of far and near, of large and small redefine their proportional relationships using new categories?

Stefanella Sposito (page 3)

In November 2004, the gallery Studio G7 presented ‘Bosna Quilt-Stitched Time’, an exhibition of collectively conceived and created works of both social-anthropological and artistic interest curated by Paola Juri. The basis of this project is ‘Bosna Quilt Werkstatt’, a unique artistic fusion combining the collaborative efforts and experiences of women motivated by very different sensitivities and cultures. Behind this initiative are Austrian painter, Lucia Feinig-Giesinger, and a small community of Bosnian women, who fled from their country in 1993 to a war refugee camp in Verarlberg, Austria. The artistic atelier was begun in the Caritas Galina refugee camp, becoming a permanent work project. When the war ended in 1998 the enclave transferred to the city of Gorzade on the Drina River. The works on exhibition are one-of-a-kind pieces, made by assembling layers of fabric together and stitched by hand. They are large geometric fields of colour and the contrasts are accentuated by the intermittent movement of the thread used for the quilting that traces ‘invisible designs’ on the entire surface. The shapes are varied and can be made-to-order.

Ester Prestini (page 7)

During a visit to Tunisia, Ester Prestini meets a weaver and remains transfixed by the woman’s ability as she reproduces an image of the tree of life. The author observes the quick hand that ‘uses an alphabet of ancient symbols that are timeless’, grasping the profound meaning of that silent narrative. The ‘mysterious way the women recount, and give order to the world by entwining the yarns’ is the inspiration for reflection. The narrow space of a small laboratory, the designs for carpets and tapestries, blankets, garments or tablecloths appear as variegated pictograms that recall the secret of ‘nature weaving the thread of life’. ‘Codices to decipher… traces of the bond that unites every new generation to its previous one and to the generation to follow’.

Ester Prestini (page 8)

Laura Curino’s most recent production is entitled ‘Telai’ (Looms). She uses the stage as a narration of lives actually lived, the narration of personal and collective memories. The continuous thread in this theatrical text is a loom. Each of her unique stories comes from the extraordinary archives of northeast Italy; stories of ten women living between Schio and Venice from the 1600s to the early 1900s. Times, places, characters, intimacies, all tied to the socio-economic and political co-ordinates of each historical period are set around the tools of the trade: the skein-winder, the needle, the lace pillow, the spool. One of the elements in the scenography is fundamental to the narration: a rectangular piece of lightweight fabric, which in each phase and time period, mutates into the virginal wimple of the nun, the hesitant veil of the bride, a shawl, a hood, a coverall…into the garment that exemplifies the absolute uniqueness of every existence.

SEQUINS (Brodeuses)
Ester Prestini (page 9)

The stark beauty of director Eleanore Faucher’s film language speaks to us about embroiderers. A story of women of today, not lost in the twilight of a more or less recent past, whose paths cross in a space characterised by painful solitude. Claire, a young worker temporarily employed in a supermarket, and Mrs Melikian, a collaborator in the Embroidery Atelier run by François Lesage in Paris, meet as a result of Claire’s stubbornness. Their meeting takes place on the extraordinary and impervious terrain of the experience of maternity, creation in its original form, creation where the act of embroidering is a metaphor and a universal analogy.

Metamorphoses of Martha Nieuwenhuijs
Stefanella Sposito (page 10)

Taking our lead from a conference-exhibition held in Collegno (Turin) in June 2004, we have opened our dialogue with Martha Nieuwenhuijs, cosmopolitan artist who conceived the event. The theme of METAMORPHOSES brought together diverse exponents of philology, architecture, music, art and philosophy. In a world where change is ever more rapid and uncontrollable, the theme of metamorphoses recalls evolutions and transformations putting the historical past in direct comparison with the immediate present. By means of the artist’s words even her works come alive: Chaos, The Foreigner, The Village, the Return, inspired by the events of September 11th from the point of view of the news correspondent and the image of the emigrant; There was no Moon, Ponte Dora, The Old Factory are instead inspired by the old industrial districts of Turin. All Martha Nieuwenhuijs’s work is characterised by a lucid, almost photographic gaze on the changing world, a metamorphic capacity to ‘see’…and to discover. The artist is also attentive to what she believes to be the essential metamorphoses of material and its manipulations. For many years, she has been interested in ancient weaves for experimenting different textures. Today she is attracted by technological materials such as fibreglass, non-woven textiles in polyester, the plotter print on fabric.

Stefanella Sposito (page 14)

Sequins are cut from thin sheets of polyester or acetate; those brilliant, shiny disks of plastic that are often integral to all seasons of dresses and fashion accessories. In the past they were called ‘spangles’ and gave lustre and beauty to those who wore them. Their use is less common in the art world, however, in 1912 with the emergence of Futurism in Italy, they are added as material extraneous to the paint, able to break-up the unity of the plane, adding multiple visual elements while at the same time contributing to the bi-dimensional aspect of the canvas. As the use of plastic materials increased, artists and engineers felt the need to measure themselves against the ‘symbolic material’ of the technological evolution. An element that is part of the textile world becomes part of the compositional language of a painting. In the article, works made entirely with sequins, or partially composed with this material, are illustrated. They are part of the artistic works of artists such as Gino Severini, Enrico Bay, Francesco Vezzoli, Maria Amalia Cangiano and Andrea Martini.